Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

The Vortex Theatre
Review by Carole C. Sullivan

Rachel Foster and Abby Van Gerpen
Photo by Broken Chain Photography
The Vortex Theatre is presenting an outstanding production of Mac Wellman's Dracula. Directed by Chad Brummett, this production seems to bring an infusion of new blood to the Vortex. This well-cast, well-designed, and lively show is not to be missed!

Too often, productions in Albuquerque seem to be under rehearsed. That is not the case with this Dracula. The timing of the fast-paced show is right on, and even the special effects are handled with finesse. I particularly like the use of puppets (hand and shadow) to flesh out the action. The Steampunk aesthetic works well and enhances this absurdist adaptation by playwright Mac Wellman.

Director Chad Brummett is well acquainted with Wellman's work; he has acted in the play several times. He brings his considerable experience as a stage, television, and film actor to his work here. Chad is a well-known local television personality and the producer of several award-winning documentaries. He's more than a triple threat.

Passion and sexual repression are at the core of Stoker's Dracula, and the women in this production are particularly strong. The blatantly sexual Lucy, played by Abby Van Gerpen, is both provocative and funny. Rachel Foster is equally effective as the repressed Mina. The Vampyrettes, otherwise known as the brides of Dracula, are played with abandon by Cara Joan, Versai Knight, and Catalina. Their work is visceral and very effective.

The men, playing Dr. Seward, Van Helsing, and Simmons, are less dynamic by design. They stumble around trying to figure out what's going on in a believable slap-stick way. Dakota Lopez as Quincey Morris, the handyman and fixer, is a remarkable, large physical presence. He hoists several of the actors with ease and sings a fun ditty in the opening and for transitions. Evan Spreen goes all out as a very physical Jonathan Harker. Jeff Dolecek as Dracula is menacing and articulate, but could have played the role with a bit more sex appeal. The ensemble cast works very well together.

One thing is slightly off in the production–the pre-show antics of the Vampyrettes and Quincy Morris. The lighting and some of the staging make it very difficult to see what the performers are doing. This warm-up section was under rehearsed art the performance I attended, but will probably improve as the actors become accustomed to working with the audience.

The production team is larger than the cast and it shows. This show is well-mounted with thought going into every aspect. The costumes by Khristah Garcia, assisted by Carly Trujillo, are excellent. They are designed well and work for each of the actors. The Steampunk theme is achieved in all technical details of the production. The lighting and the use of some unique lighting fixtures, incorporated by lighting designer RayRey Griego, lend just the right amount of foreboding and menace to the action. The scenery is constructed and painted professionally and the sound effects and illusions are ideal. Even the props are appropriate and non-intrusive.

Chad Brummett should be congratulated for bringing together such a great team, both backstage and on stage. Too often, a show is well acted but lacks adequate technical support. It was a pleasure to see such a well done show.

Dracula runs through October 15, 2023, at the Vortex, 2900 Carlisle Blvd, Albuquerque NM. Performances are on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. General Admission $24, Students and SAG/AFTRA $19. For Tickets and information, please visit or call 505 247-8600.

Directed by Chad Brummett, Set Design Mary Rossman, Costume & Make-up Design Khristah Garcia. Cast: Mark Comstock, Jeff Dolecek, Rachel Foster, Dakotah Lopez, Quinn Mander, Miguel Martinez, Even Spreen, Abby Van Gerpen, Cara Joan, Versai Knight, and Catalina.